Giving You The Best That I Got

Album: Giving You The Best That I Got (1988)
Charted: 55 3
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Songfacts®:

  • This was Anita Baker's biggest hit, scoring #1 on both the Adult Contemporary and R&B charts, in addition to #3 on the Hot 100. A broad crossover song, it became a favorite of jazz, pop, and soft rock radio stations. Baker wrote the song with Randy Holland and Skip Scarborough.
  • The song's writers won the Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song for their work on this track. Baker also won Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for both the song and album. The album also took three Soul Train Music Awards and made Billboard's #1 album spot for December 24, 1988 through January 20, 1989. That breaks in between (prepare for mood dissonance) U2's Rattle and Hum and Bobby Brown's Don't Be Cruel.
  • This song is about unconditional devotion to your mate, but according to its co-writer Randy Holland, it didn't start out that way. Holland says that he wrote the song after moving from Bartlesville, Oklahoma to Los Angeles, where he pursued a career in music. He was "giving it the best that he got," but things weren't working out for him in the city. He later changed the song to be about his wife, Jennifer, and their special bond.

    Holland didn't have the connections to get the song recorded, but his friend Skip Scarborough, was a prominent R&B songwriter who had written the L.T.D. hit "Love Ballad" and the Earth, Wind & Fire song "Can't Hide Love." Holland asked Scarborough to make any changes to the song he thought would help, and to shop it around.

    Scarborough made some structural changes, produced a demo, and sent it to Elektra Records, hoping their artist Howard Hewett would record it. Also on that label was Anita Baker, who had lots of clout after her hugely successful 1986 album Rapture.

    Baker heard the song and asked to record it as long as she could make some changes to the lyric; she was engaged to be married, so she felt a deep connection with the song. Baker took it and added some detail at the beginning and had the tempo sped up, producing the peppier version. Her changes earned her a writing credit on the song, which she split with Holland and Scarborough.

    The song became the first single and title track for her album.
  • With the line, "I bet everything on my wedding ring," it's no surprise that this became a very popular wedding song. Baker was married to Walter Bridgeworth Jr. in 1988, the same year the song was released. They felt short of forever, separating in 2005.
  • The video is a low-budget affair, simply showing Baker singing the song in an empty auditorium. Still, the clip did well on VH1, which even used it in a promo where they point out that "once in a while we lose a viewer or two... they have other things to attend to."
  • One of Michael Jordan's most famous moments happened on May 7, 1989, when he hit a last-second shot to win a playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the post-game interview, when asked what song he was listening to so intently before the game, he said: "Anita Baker. 'Giving You The Best.' That's what I give you all." Fans were surprised to learn that Jordan didn't use hip-hop for motivation, but sultry R&B.

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